Autumn Harvest Bars

I certainly have some catching up to do… now that I work most afternoons and evenings, cooking has largely fallen to the wayside, never mind experimenting with new recipes and keeping track of what we eat. However, there have been a few delectable treats that we have enjoyed several times during this holiday season and I am long overdue in sharing.

I fell in love with these lovely bars when a friend made them for dessert one night at Jubilee. She replaced the winter squash with sweet potato puree in possibly my favorite rendition yet of this versatile vegetable. Since returning home, where sweet potatoes are not so prolific, I have made these bars with canned pumpkin and a roasted and mashed Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Next time, I’ll try adding some nuts, and maybe some fresh cranberries. You can’t really go wrong with this fantastic recipe, adapted slightly from Simply in Season by Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind.

UPDATE (10/23/17): Made these again with butternut squash, 3 eggs (since that’s what I had), 1 cup each of brown rice flour and a gluten-free all-purpose mix, fresh grated ginger, and just 1/3 cup sugar. Squash was so sweet, might have been able to get away with less sugar, actually. Surprised me, since it was such a dramatic drop in the sugar amount, and I remember these being borderline too bland and not sweet enough last time I made them, with at least 1/2 cup sugar, possibly a full cup, I no longer recall. I attribute this to the fact that I didn’t use whole wheat flour this time — I’m noticing that whole wheat flour seems to be a flavor “sink,” requiring more sugar, spices, etc. for the flavor to come through. Just a theory. Also, with the turbinado sugar I’ve been using, a little seems to go a long way. In any case, if anything, these bars are better gluten-free!

Autumn Harvest Bars

2 cups squash or sweet potato puree

1 – 1 1/2 cup sugar (I’ve used as little as 1/3 cup)

2/3 cup oil

3-4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (or brown rice flour for gluten free)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle of ginger, cloves, and/or pumpkin pie spice

Chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat together wet ingredients in a large bowl. Sift together dry ingredients and then mix them gradually into the wet. Fold in nuts if desired. Pour into a greased 11×17″ pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

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